18-month jail term for Pope's butler

18-month jail term for Pope's butler

Pope Benedict XVI’s butler Paolo Gabriele was convicted on Saturday of stealing the pontiff’s private documents and leaking them to a journalist.

He has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre read the verdict aloud two hours after the three-judge panel began deliberating Paolo Gabriele’s fate.

The sentence was reduced to 18 months from three years because of a series of mitigating circumstances, including that Gabriele had no previous record, had worked for years for the Holy See, acknowledged that he had betrayed the Pope and was convinced, “albeit erroneously” that he was doing the right thing, Dalla Torre said.

Gabriele was accused of stealing the Pope’s private correspondence and passing it on to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book revealed the intrigue, petty infighting and allegations of corruption and homosexual liaisons that plague the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

In his final appeal to the court on Saturday morning, Gabriele insisted “I don’t feel like a thief” and said he leaked the Pope’s private correspondence out of a “visceral love” for the church and the Pope. He has said he felt the Pope wasn’t being informed of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican, and that exposing the problems would put the church back on the right track.

Gabriele’s attorney, Cristiana Arru, said the sentence was “good, balanced” and said she was awaiting the judges’ written reasoning before deciding whether to appeal.

Nuzzi’s book, “His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI’s Secret Papers” prompted the Pope to order a probe. A papal pardon is expected, though it’s not known when it might be granted.